LCD TV Buyer’s Guide
Liquid crystal display televisions (LCD) are ultra thin and lighter than traditional CRT televisions (TVs) as they use a fluorescent white backlight which light up a network of thousands of pixels to display the picture instead of the traditional CRT tube. The image clarity is also superior, there is less reflection and glare; and it has a wider viewing angle.
In this expert guide the different types of LCD TVs and the specifications to consider when reviewing the various models are explained. It will also provide guidance as to the types available with the different price ranges.
Available types of LCD TVs
There is an array of different LCD TVs available in today’s market, which makes selecting one a complex issue. The first thing to decide on is the type of LCD TV you need.
- Standard Definition
Some LCD TVs still come with the old standard definition resolution. They have 576 visible lines which enables them to produce a clear image irrespective of signal type. However this resolution is quickly becoming obsolete and is being replaced by the new HD standards.
- High Definition
There are several new channels with have programs recorded in high definition (HD). In order to view these programs in HD you will need an HDTV ready, or HDTV compatible television. What this means is that these TVs display the clearer, more detailed high definition images as they have more visible lines as opposed to CRT TVs which only have 576 visible lines.
There are three types of HD TVs:
720p – which has 720 lines and the picture is loaded at once instead of line by line.
1080i – which has more lines and pixels than 720p.
1080p – which combines the high number of lines and pixels of the 1080i with the progressive scan of the 720p, making it a far superior product.
The following specifications are important to consider during the LCD TV review and selection process.
- Aspect Ratio
The aspect ratio refers to the shape of the screen, depicted as “width:height”. Most widescreen LCD TVs have an aspect ratio of around 16:9, while smaller TVs may have an aspect ratio of 4:3.
The LCD TV specification will display the resolution as a figure like 1,920 x 1,080. This indicates the physical number of horizontal and vertical pixels within the LCD display matrix. If you are buying a larger LCD TV today, you should go for the 720p or 1080p standards which means your TV can show the new types of signals.
- Connection Points
An LCD TV must have at least one SCART socket, while most also offer S-Video as well. Some may even come with USB hubs so that you can connect peripherals like digital cameras or even a PC. High definition LCD TV’s will also have a HDMI connection. We even recommend you to look for TVs with multiple HDMI connectors as more and more peripherals are using this connector.
- Contrast ratio
A high contrast ratio means that blacks will appear deeper and whites will appear brighter on the screen. Again the contrast ratio will vary between the different makes and types of LCD TV due to the different light technology used behind the panels. Often, the higher the contrast ratio the better.
Entry level budget
LCD TVs are not cheap but it is possible to find reasonably priced TV for under $300. While it is possible to buy an HD-ready television for under $300, the image quality isn’t as good as the more expensive TVs as they have a lower resolution and contrast ratio. You will also find that most of these TVs only offer a smaller screen of around 19 inches.
If you want a television with a better quality picture and sound, or just a larger screen then expect to pay up to $1000.
A HDTV using the 720p or 1080p high definition technology is definitely possible to have in this segment as prices have been dropping. You should look for a TV which comes with both a digital and analog tuner and offers an aspect ratio of 16:9.
For the top of the range, high definition television with all the trimmings such as integrated DVD and the ability to link up you PC with the LCD TV, you can expect to pay more than $1000. In this segment you can expect a lot of nice features such as; an abundance of connectors, a very high contrast ratio, the 1080p resolution, advanced 3D color management technology, when viewing both standard and high definition pictures etc.
The wide variety of LCD TVs available can make shopping around for one a confusing task. Start by selecting your preferred size and budget level and then move on to testseek.com to see which model have received the highest scores in expert reviews from all around the world.
Disclaimer: This guide was written in late 2008 and the specific product recommendations may be outdated. However the basic discussions in this buyer's guide may still be of great value.
Written by; TestSeek staff